A Not So Brady Bunch of Dads…

The Cast of Dads (minus Max, who was at sea) whipped together a short video about our Mother’s Day experience with the Motorola Droid Razr.  All the footage was shot with the Razr, and thanks to Danny Cameron and the DadLabs team for the great job editing.  Enjoy!

 Disclosure: The Video above was sponsored by Motorola and the Droid Razr.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads and Wunderkind! podcasts.

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Help Me Get My March Madness On!

I love basketball.  To be more specific, I love playing basketball.  I’m not tall, not light, and I’ve never actually been that good at it, but that never stopped me from loving the game.  That probably comes from growing up in a part of Queens N.Y. where asphalt was everywhere and thus so were rims.  Grass and fields were not part of the equation in my childhood.  I lived in an apartment.  My elementary and Junior High Schools had only paved yards, so it was only natural that they offered an abundance of hoops and that basketball became the game of choice, and for most of my formative years, the game I played just about every day.

My Day On Court

Half court, full-court, one on one, three on three, horse, whatever. If it involved bouncing that ball and tossing it toward (and hopefully through) that hoop we played it. We lived it.  I played in leagues.  I played at summer camp.  I even had my moment at age 11 or 12 when I miraculously scored a winning basket, a clumsy, unexpected bank-shot, in the famed (famed for camps in the Berkshires) Pittsfield Tournament.  Back then I was big for my age (I grew early and stopped growing early) so I was valuable on the court to get in the way and grab rebounds, but I rarely had the opportunity to take a shot, let alone score a basket.  I remember the article about the game in the camp newsletter referring to me as “defense specialist” when reporting on that remarkable winning moment.

Kids, Knicks and Dads!

When I became a dad, I was still an avid fan of playing, and couldn’t wait to put up a hoop in my own driveway and play with my sons.  When they got older we played together at the gym.  Yet with all my love for the game, I haven’t kept up as a spectator.  I haven’t really followed a team where I knew all the players since Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley and Earl Monroe ruled the Knicks, and Phil Jackson was a player, not a coach…  Yeah, I’m that old.  So if I haven’t kept up with the NBA, you can imagine my lack of team knowledge when it comes to college basketball… yet I couldn’t be more excited to say I’ll be heading off to New Orleans this weekend for the NCAA final four!  I am excited because I love the game of basketball, and I am pretty confident I will bear witness to some great games.  And, I’ll be doing it with some great dads!

Life’s Good!

LG – the consumer electronics company whose motto is aptly “Life’s Good” is making sure this weekend life will surely be good for a number of dads including my fellow Cast of Dads co-hosts C.C. Chapman of Digital Dads and Brad Powell of DadLabs.  Courtesy of LG we’ll be spending a few days in the big easy watching some great b-ball and getting the inside track on a wide range of LG products.  The geek in me is as pumped up as the old basketball player as I saw a sampling of some of LG’s 3D TV’s and other products at both the Consumer Electronics Show in January and the Dad2Summit earlier this month.  Lots of impressive technology all around.  As an official NCAA Corporate Partner, LG has a number of events going on  for the NCAA finals, including an LG Home Court Challenge Experience for fans in Bracket Town on Sunday April 1st.  You can get more info about LG and their NCAA promotions here.

Who Should I Root For?

So, do me a favor.  Since I don’t have a team to root for yet, please help me out with my last minute bracket.  Please help give me a crash course in this year’s NCAA finals.  Leave a comment and let me know who I should be rooting for to win the championship.  If you tell me to pick the right team (the team that actually does win) you’ll have a chance to win a prize: If you help me be a better rooter, I’ll give you a chance to win a router! (That’s right, I have a brand new Linksys E4200 Dual Band N Router I’ll give, randomly, to someone who picks the winning team in the comments to this post.  Comments must be received by 12 noon EST on Monday, April 2, 2012).  Thanks for your help!

Go ______________!!!

Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/3/k1OU88

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Who Is Woogie? (Hint: An iPhone Creature For Your Kids)

At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) there were literally acres of costly Las Vegas Convention Center booth space dedicated to a seemingly endless array of iPhone, iPad and iPod accessories.  From cases to keyboards to biometric monitors, dozens of manufacturers were baring their wares and showing off both ingenious and incredulous ways to accessorize your iOS device.

What A Doll!

On the ingenious side of the fence were some slick products that leveraged an app to turn an iPhone or iPod into a real toy.  Some let the iPhone become the controller for an otherwise inanimate object, like Sphero.  Others, like Parrot’s amazing AR Drone, let you use your iPhone to fly (and get a birds’ eye view).  When I visited my friend Dave Delaney over at the Griffin Technology booth he introduced me to Woogie… (actually, the new Woogie 2.)  Woogie is a cute and clever plush doll that literally comes to life when you stick an iPhone or iPod Touch inside.  A free Woogie App turns the iPhone/iPod into the eyes, ears and voice of the Woogie, creating an animated, interactive doll that is certain to enthrall its young owner.

Here is a short video of Dave demonstrating Woogie:

What do you think about turning iPhones into toys?  Would you let your iPhone become a Woogie for your kid?

NOTE:  Since I recorded this, Dave had decided to move on from Griffin to start his own Digital Marketing business.  Dave is a terrific guy, a good friend, and an experienced, talented and creative marketer with a tangible track record of success.  For more info on Dave and how he might be able to help you or your business, please visit DaveMadeThat.com.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads and Wunderkind! podcasts.

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Zen and the Art of Ultrabooks

(Note: this is a sponsored post, but the words and opinions are all mine.)

It is fitting that Asus calls their new Ultrabook line “Zenbooks.”  Just one look and you can see that it is a device that exudes a sense of calm and balance, purity and power.   An early entrant in the Intel Ultrabook category, the Zenbook is thin and sleek, capable and fast.  It is the Ying and Yang of portable computing: thin and light enough to take with you everywhere, yet powerful and feature rich enough to function as a primary computer.  Actually, that is the essence of the Intel Ultrabook spec – to pack a full-featured computer in an elegantly thin package, supported by long battery life, best-in-class security, and the convenience of “instant on” (giving the boot to lengthy boot times), all at a reasonable price point.

Intel Inside

As long-time Dadomatic readers know, I have been an Intel Advisor and have written here about interesting technology and insights I have gleaned from attending various events and having the opportunity to peek inside Intel.  Now I am looking forward to bringing you more information about the ultra slick new category of Ultrabooks that Intel is the driving force behind.  Intel has provided me with an ASUS Zenbook, as well as an opportunity for one of you to get an Ultrabook through a Twitter give-away.  I am working hand in hand (or Ultrabook to Ultrabook) with one of my Intel Advisor and Cast of Dads cohorts, Michael Sheehan (also known as HighTechDad.)  If you want to learn more about Ultrabooks (and have a chance to get your hands on one) please follow me (@sass) and Michael (@hightechdad) on Twitter, and keep an eye out for our tweets with the hashtag #UltrabookDads.  Michael and I will also be collaborating on some fun video reviews of the Ultrabook, so please stay tuned.

The Wow Factor

As the geek dad in my family, my kids are always waiting to see what new computing gadget or gizmo I will be bringing home.  It has been fascinating to watch over the years as the “wow factor” of gadgets has shifted to the point where the design, look and feel of a device is almost as important as its function and capabilities.  It wasn’t too long ago when all we cared about was what a computer could do. Now, as we bring our computers with us to meetings, family gatherings, parks, coffee shops and airports, we also care about how our computers look and feel. That’s the world our kids are growing up in.  For them, what their computers look and feel like will be just as important as the “kicks” they wear.  When I look at the Ultrabook as compared to the first laptop I ever had, the advancements, inside and out, are mind boggling.  I can only imagine what ultra amazing computers my kids have to look forward to.  With style, design and performance in mind, Ultrabooks definitely win on the wow factor, and seem to deliver on the promise of taking portable computing into the future.

What’s Next?

I look forward to spending some time with the Asus Zenbook Ultrabook and then sharing my thoughts with you.  Meanwhile, here are a few shots from my “unboxing” of the Asus Zenbook:

Can’t see the video? Click HERE.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads  and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Disclosure:  In accordance with the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration and/or am being otherwise compensated by Intel in preparing to create this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. My opinions about Intel, Asus, and Ultrabooks are entirely my own and not those of Intel, Asus or any other party.

Photo Credit: © Robert Spriggs – Fotolia.com

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Transcendent Man: A Look at Futurist Ray Kurzweil (Review)

Transcendent ManI’ve been thinking all week about a movie I saw on Monday night at the recommendation of my friend Clay Hebert and I still haven’t fully reconciled what I saw, heard and how to interpret the constant thoughts it’s generated.

Transcendent Man is a documentary directed by Barry Ptolemy chronicling “the life and controversial ideas of luminary Ray Kurzweil,” a man who wrote his first computer program at age 15 (in 1963) and built a computer in 1965 that put him on a CBS TV show.
It’s hard to question Kurzweil’s credentials: they’re profound.  He’s been inventing technology from flatbed scanners to music synthesizers for decades.  But it’s his predictions, first brought forth in Kurweil’s book: The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, that form the foundation of this film.  Says the official movie Web site: “Kurzweil predicts that with the ever-accelerating rate of technological change, humanity is fast approaching an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological and millions of times more powerful. This will be the dawning of a new civilization enabling us to transcend our biological limitations. In Kurzweil’s post-biological world, boundaries blur between human and machine, real and virtual. Human aging and illness are reversed, world hunger and poverty are solved, and we cure death.”
He is talking about a world that is more like The Terminator films than our own.  A world where humans are responsible for building the smartest machines ever imagined, ones that are smarter than humans and ones that actually blend biology and technology well beyond today’s limits.
What I’ve been struggling with isn’t so much the “can this really happen” question because I believe it can (though I’m not so sure about the curing death thing).  The question that hit me like a bucket of ice water over the head is “can this really happen as fast as Kurzweil says it will?  He talks of the exponential growth of technology and believes what we’ve seen in the past will easily apply to these futuristic machines.  For example:
  • Music: look how long it took to move away from records…but once we did, 8-tracks became cassette players which became CDs which became digital music.
  • Digital storage: I’m too young to remember a computer that held data on a tape reel.  My first PC in the mid-80s had a 5 1/4″ floppy drive.  Look at the speed with which those drives became 3 1/2″ ones and then how quickly those disappeared in favor of disks…and now some companies like Apple are starting to eliminate a DVD drive in many of their machines. The DVD on a PC or even in your home (streaming media from Amazon, Netflix, etc.)  is doomed.
  • Cell phone: I remember (again in the 80s) when I saw the first cell phone. The mechanic at the garage my dad took our cars to had one.  It was big, bulky and in a bag. And it cost thousands of dollars.  I still remember my initial reaction: sure this would be great for people like paramedics (I was a huge Rescue 51 fan) but not only was it totally unaffordable for the average consumer, why would you need to make a non emergency phone call when you were on the move?  How quickly that technology has changed…phones are now as small as a credit card.

Whether you agree with Kurzweil or not, the fact is that if you use technology today…and have been at all impacted by how technology has changed for you within your lifetime, you should find a way to catch this flick.  It’ll keep you up at night wondering about the possibilities of what the future brings.

Getting An Upgrade From Intel


Chips anyone?

As part of the “Intel Advisors” program, my fellow Cast of Dads co-host Michael Sheehan (@hightechdad) and I were the lone males at the recent “Upgrade Your Life” experience at Intel‘s Santa Clara headquarters.  Surrounded by a bevy of talented women entrepreneurs and bloggers we were treated to an inspiring peek inside Intel and in particular, a deeper look at some ways technology is impacting our environment, our health and our education — in essence, how technology is impacting our lives and the lives of our families. I attended this event last year as well, where, among other things, I was introduced to the Intel Reader, a fascinating product to help the visually impaired.  There was a lot of great information and learning at this year’s event as well and I look forward to sharing more details here.  Meanwhile there is a good overview at the Intel Inside Scoop blog, and below is a short video recap Michael and I recorded in the lobby.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

Disclosure: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf.  Intel covered my travel, accommodations and expenses for my trip to Santa Clara for the Upgrade Your Life event.

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Talking Tech and Toddlers on MashUp Radio

Last week I had the chance to speak about kids and technology with Intel‘s Peter Biddle on his MashUp Radio show.  We had a fun conversation that ran the gamut from toddlers and tablets, to “Free Range Kids,” to marketing to kids, to the concept of our kids never being alone thanks to technology.

Peter is an awesome guy to chat with as he has had some great experiences and in addition to hosting MashUp Radio, he leads AppUp Products and Services in Intel’s Software and Services Group.  While Peter has an impressive tech industry background, the line in his bio that got my attention is:

“Peter’s first business venture was as sole proprietor of a paint-ball field in Washington State, where he developed the skills that help him navigate Silicon Valley successfully.”

Now that’s a guy you want to talk to!  I have embedded my talk with Peter below, and I hope you enjoy listening.  Please let us know what you think in the comments and add your own thoughts about toddlers and tech.

Listen to internet radio with MashUp Radio on Blog Talk Radio

DISCLOSURE: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to advise and attend events on their behalf.

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Google’s “Dear Sophie” Ad Makes Dads Proud!

Product commercials are known to be sappy on occasion.  It seems the pulling of our heartstrings is a proven selling technique right up there with sex and humor.  Effective branding ads frequently play with our emotions, creating clever brand associations that, when they work, can be deep and lasting.  Google has a winner with it’s current ad for Chrome, as a Dad’s love and pride for his daughter is brilliantly expressed through the thoughtful and personal digital history he creates for her, leveraging Gmail and other Google products from within his Chrome  browser.

Scrap the Scrapbook!

Granted, this is a commercial, but the email diary Sophie’s Dad creates for her is a brilliant idea any Dad (or Mom) can use as a way to memorialize all those special moments as our kids grow from infancy to insanity.  For a geek Dad this seems far better than a scrapbook.  Just set up an email account for your kid, and start sending them emails, with pictures and videos as attachments.  Then, one day, when they are old enough, and least expect it… hand over their username and password, and let them read through their life through your eyes!  Easy. Fun. Touching. Brilliant!   I wish I could have done this when my (now young adult) kids were kids.  What do you think?

Here is the ad, “Dear Sophie.” (Hat tip to MG Siegler at TechCrunch, which is where I first saw the ad…)

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

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Coffee, Cast of Dads & Conversation…

As you know if you’ve been following me here, some of the Cast of Dads had the chance to go to the NY International Auto Show, courtesy of Sony and Ford.  As you may know, the Cast of Dads podcast began as an offshoot of the Sony DigiDad project, which brought together myself, C.C. Chapman, Brad Powell, Michael Sheehan, and Max Kalehoff to blog about our family experiences with a variety of products loaned to us by Sony.  With that as our history, one of the highlights of the Cast of Dads road-trip to NY was the chance to spend some time with our good friend Sukhjit Ghag from Sony.

DSC01153.JPG

While this is not necessarily the typical Cast of Dads episode, as usual we touch on a wide range of topics from cars and phones, to the gadgets that enhance our pleasure, to some thoughts on the future technology our kids will inherit.  Since we were fortunate to be traveling with the talented DadLabs cameraman, Danny Cameron, we recorded our conversation and hope that you will enjoy watching it.  So, grab your own cup of coffee… and join us for a chat with Sukhjit.

Coffee Chat Between Cast of Dads and Sukhjit Ghag from Sony from C.C. Chapman on Vimeo.

You can also download this video.

Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/2

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood. The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

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On The Road… Again

Last week 3/5ths of the Cast of Dads had the chance to get together for a road trip from Boston to NY thanks to the the teams at Ford and Sony who tried to be the first brands to get all of us together.  Unfortunately, crazy dad schedules (that is – crazy schedules, not crazy dads… well…) prevented Max and Michael from joining us, but Brad, C.C. and I (and Danny from the DadLabs team) were supplied with a 2011 Ford Explorer to drive from Beantown to the Big Apple for the New York International Auto Show.

2011 Ford Explorer

The Explorer was loaded with so much cool technology it was like driving a four wheeled gadget, and we were loaded with our own technology to ensure we created lots of content to share with you along the way.  Once we arrived in New York we were treated to a party sponsored by Ford and Sony for the unveiling of the new FORD TAURUS, and featuring an amazing performance by the band TRAIN.  You can also check out some C.C.’s photos as well as some pictures I took at the party and the Auto Show as well.  I will be sharing a lot more content from the Cast of Dads road trip.

Along the way we reminisced about our own family road trips and shared some stories and memories in this short video.  Stay tuned for more… and Enjoy!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood. The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Disclosure: Ford & Sony covered travel expenses and gave us press access to the auto show. We were provided with a Ford vehicle to drive from Boston to New York. All thoughts, words and anything else we say is totally our own opinions.

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How Old Is Justin Bieber? The Cast of Dads Want To Know

This week the Cast of Dads are feeling inspired by the spring in the air and the spring in their steps, but even better weather cannot keep us focused on just one topic.  Where else can you find five clueless dads debating everything from Justin Bieber vs. Rebecca Black to MacGuyver vs. MacGruber in a single half hour show?… now THAT’S entertainment!

We are also excited about an upcoming road trip this week, sponsored by our friends at Sony and Ford, that will bring the Cast of Dads together for a private concert and an inside look at the NY Auto Show.  Follow me on Twitter to learn more about this event and how you might be able to participate…

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS Episode 41.

Topics discussed in this episode include:

If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads podcast, please tell your friends about the show and have them subscribe to either our direct feed orvia iTunes.  Also, please leave us a review in iTunes!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood. The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.


Beer & Coffee: The Cast of Dads at SXSW

Having Beer and Coffee with @cc_chapman (winking at @matthewebel)For many geeks, the true March Madness is the trippy trip to Austin, Texas for South By Southwest (SXSW).  Last year, fellow Cast of Dads dad C.C. Chapman and I had the pleasure of visiting the DadLabs Studios, where Daddy Brad (Brad Powell) and his paternal posse produce their short fatherhood flicks.  This year we convened with Brad again, but instead of the studios we set up shop upstairs in a cafe that served both beer and coffee! Take that Starbucks!  We missed having our full quintet of dads together, but we did manage to record a video episode of 3/5th of Cast of Dads.  Between the beer and the coffee our energy level was high, and I apologize in advance for letting rip the “s” word at least once.  Yep, I said shit.  Whoops… did it again.  Enjoy the show!

3/5th Cast of Dads at SXSW 2011 from C.C. Chapman on Vimeo.

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood. The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

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Whining and #Winning!

One dad clearly #Winning in the news these days is Charlie Sheen, and the Cast of Dads took a few sips of Tiger Blood while recording our 40th episode.  As usual, we cover a cornucopia of topics, from Charile’s angels -er, goddesses, to Dr. Seuss.  As a true sign of a dedicated dadcaster, our own Max Kalefhoff joined us for the show even though he was in the middle of a blackout in New York, prompting a a discussion about flashlights.  Clearly, anything is fair game with this Cast of Dads! Enjoy!

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 40

Topics discussed in this episode include:

If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads podcast, please tell your friends about the show and have them subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes. Also, please leave us a review in iTunes!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood. The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

 

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Discussing Dadgets: The Cast of Dads At CES 2011

Three of us Cast of Dads (CC, Michael and myself) were in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and we got together upstairs in the Intel booth to record both a video and audio special episode of the Cast of Dads podcast.  We invited Dave Delaney of Griffin Technology to join us as our first ever guest Dad, and we had a lot of fun talking gadgets and dadgets in the corner of a very busy Intel CES meeting room.  In the show you’ll see us playing with an unusual netbook/tablet from Dell, and stay tuned to future Cast of Dads shows for news on how you may be able to get your hands on one courtesy of Intel & Dell.  Links to listen to the audio version of this show, as well as links to some of the things we talk about, appear below the video.  Enjoy!

You can LISTEN TO THE CAST OF DAD AT CES 2011 show HERE.

Some of the things we mention in the show:

And much, much more…

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

DISCLOSURES: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf, including the 2011 CES show. I make mention of the  Sony NEX-5 Camera (affiliate link), which I received as a sample from Sony that I am not expected to return.

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A Kid Friendly iPad Case That Lets You Trace!

As part of the Dad-O-Matic CES coverage, Chris Brogan shared a look at the Crayola ColorStudioHD iPad app and “digital crayon” coming soon from Griffin Technology.  Cool as the Crayola app is, it wasn’t the only neat thing we saw from the Griffin gang.  Dave Delaney also showed me the Griffin LightBoard, which is a colorful, kid friendly iPad case (and companion drawing app) that cleverly lets you overlay a sheet of paper so kids can trace and recreate on paper their digital drawings.  Very clever and cool.  Dave also reveals a secret about the packaging for the LightBoard that every dad (and mom) will appreciate.  Also, Dave and the Griffin team were kind enough to give Dad-O-Matic a LightBoard to give to one of you.  Watch the video below and leave a comment between now and the end of the day Friday, January 21st and we’ll randomly pick one person to receive the LightBoard (iPad NOT included).

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

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Bringing Toys To Life at CES 2011: Intel Labs OASIS

Central Hall Panorama @CES 2011 (c) 2011 Jeffrey W. Sass - Taken with Sony NEX-5

???I am back from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with sore feet, weary eyes and more than a few gigabytes of images and videos of some cool (and unusual) technology and gadgets.  I look forward to sharing a lot of that content with you here on Dad-O-Matic, and will try to focus on the stuff that you will most likely be able to benefit from or be interested in as parents.

Back To The Future

One of the things that makes the annual pilgrimage to CES exciting is the opportunity to look into the crystal ball and see a bit of the future, as many companies display prototypes and experimental products that are not available today, but may be introduced at some time in the not so distant future.  These are the things that often spark “WOW” moments and geekasmic pangs of “I want one!”  They also often spark the imagination, as you can really see how fast advances in consumer oriented computing and technology are moving us toward a tech enhanced lifestyle that was once only imagined in Science Fiction.  I have no doubt that our kids and grand-kids will be taking for granted the kind of technology infused world we gawked at in movies like BLADE RUNNER, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, MINORITY REPORT and many others.

Sponsors Of Tomorrow

While known best for its microprocessor chips, because of the deep impact those chips have on our lives by being inside and powering so many products we use and will use, Intel considers itself the “Sponsors Of Tomorrow” (and they were also the sponsor of my trip to CES this year).   The company invests heavily in Research and Development and one of the technologies that impressed and awed me the most was on display at the Intel CES booth.  It was a demonstration of the OASIS Perceptive Home project from Intel Labs.

Bringing Toys (and other objects) To Life

Leveraging the massive processing power of the latest microchips, along with 3D Image detection, micro projection, and a host of other technologies, the OASIS project (OASIS stands for Object Aware Situated Interactive System) creates an instant interactive augmented reality experience around common household items.  In the video below I took of the CES booth demo, you can see the OASIS system turning simple LEGO toys on a table top into fully animated, interactive play environments.   A small overhead unit that combines “Kinect-like” cameras, as well as color projectors and speakers, the OASIS can “recognize” objects and then react based on pre-determined logic and rules.  The imagined applications of this technology are endless, from finding recipes or building a shopping list by simply placing items on the kitchen counter, to creating custom interactive play surfaces based on the specific toys your child may be playing with, and as many other uses as a creative mind can imagine.

Playing With Fire The Safe Way

In the video below you will see how OASIS can make a LEGO dragon breathe animated fire… but not to worry, all it takes is a LEGO fire truck to come to the rescue and hose down the dragon caused damage.  I can remember breaking my back crawling around the floor to pick up the pieces of toy railroad tracks, strewn about after my sons would “play.”  If I only had an OASIS back then, my aspiring young Engineers could have created their own virtual railroad system by simply dragging their fingers along the dining room table.  Watch the video below and you will see what I mean.

What do you think? Can you imagine uses for Intel’s OASIS technology in your home? How would you like to see this technology “productized” for your use?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and I look forward to sharing more cool stuff and “Dadgets” from CES in upcoming posts.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

DISCLOSURES: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf, including the 2011 CES show. I was also given a camera by Sony to use to take photographs at CES.

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CES Bound: Gadgets, Dadgets, and A Remote Control Give Away!

International CESThere is no doubt that gadgets have truly gone mainstream.  Look around your home and what do you see?  Smartphones, Tablets, E-book readers, Computers, Game Consoles.  Gadgets galore.  Never before have kids grown up in households that so avidly consume consumer electronics.  Even two year old toddlers are playing with “toys” with processors inside.  Instead of finger painting, they are intuitively fingering capacitive touch screens and learning to read by tapping rather than turning pages.  I am a dad who loves gadgets, so you won’t hear me complain as more and more tech toys (for kids of ALL ages) invade our homes.  When I was part of the Sony DigiDad project I called the cool gadgets dads play with “Dadgets!”  More recently I am honored to have been selected as an “Intel Advisor,” giving me the opportunity to take a closer look at innovative lifestyle tech products such as the Intel Reader.

A SMORGASBORD FOR GADGET LOVERS

For a very long time, one of my favorite conventions to attend has been the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and I have been fortunate to be able to attend for business purposes throughout my career.  This year, in addition to monitoring all the activity in the mobile world in my role at Myxer, I am also attending CES on behalf of Intel and the Intel Advisors, and will have a chance to look more closely at how technology and consumer electronics are impacting our family lives.  I hope to share a lot of what I learn about interesting gadgets and “Dadgets” with you here on Dad-O-Matic while I am at the show, and after I return.  From home electronics to automating our automobiles with apps, the latest and greatest in innovative products and concepts will be on display at CES and I’ll do my best to give you a taste of the technologies and trends I encounter.

TAKING CONTROL WITH TECHNOLOGY & GADGETS

As parents there are many ways we can use technology to take control of our lives and make things at home more funHarmony® One Advanced Universal Remote and convenient.  From remote controlled cameras and baby monitors, to remote controls for the entertainment system in the family room… From robot floor cleaners to wireless streaming music… there are countess ways we incorporate gadgets into our daily home lives, hopefully in ways that make things easier and more fun for all.  One gadget that has won the prestigious “BEST OF INNOVATIONS” award at past CES shows is the Harmony One universal remote from Logitech and I am happy to say I have a brand new Harmony One touchscreen universal remote to give away to a Dad-O-Matic reader! I own a Harmony Remote I bought a couple of years ago and it is a great way to take control of multiple devices, from TV’s to DVD players and sound systems, with a single remote. The best feature is perhaps the setup of the remote. Instead of looking up and entering complicated manufacturer codes, the Harmony series of remotes features a very simple guided online setup.  You just connect the remote to your computer and enter the brand and model of all the equipment you want to control and the software does the rest, configuring your Harmony One perfectly.  The rechargeable Harmony One is one of Logitech’s top of the line remotes, featuring both conveniently placed buttons and a customizable touch screen.  Thanks to the friendly folks at Logitech, I have one Harmony One to give away.  All you need to do is leave a comment on this post between now and the end of the day on January 10th, ideally telling us how you use gadgets to gain more control in your home. One of your comments will be randomly selected to receive the Harmony One.  Good luck!

If there are specific gadgets (or Dadgets) you want me to look out for at CES this year, you can mention that in the comments as well!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

DISCLOSURES: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf, including the 2011 CES show.  The Harmony One universal remote being offered in this post was provided as a courtesy by Logitech’s PR team.

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The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass (and the fires it starts)

As a kid, do you remember the time you took a big old magnifying glass and used it to concentrate a beam of sunlight to try and start a fire?  More often than not, the object of your makeshift laser weapon – a dry leaf, a slip of paper, or, if you were really daring, an unlit match – would start to smoke a little, but to get it to light up took a lot of time and patience. Along the way you probably yelled “ouch” a time or two, as you stuck your own hand under the bright beam to see if it really was getting hot.  As a parent, you likely repeated this experiment with your own child one sunny afternoon when they reached that wonderful age of wonder and you came across that old magnifying glass that’s been in the drawer forever.  You used the simple rules of refraction to simultaneously teach your kid multiple lessons about science and safety.  About how something seemingly simple and accessible can also become something powerful and potentially dangerous.  It is a lesson we must continue to teach our kids today, because they are regularly using the world’s biggest magnifying glass.

The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass: The Internet

While reading this article in the New York Times in their continuing series on Cyber Bullying, I was reminded that the real problem with the online world that is so increasingly intertwined with our kids’ evolving social lives is that they don’t understand that the Internet is not just a vast and easy information and communications platform for their giggles and gossip – it is in fact The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass!  Forget Texas, everything is bigger on the Internet.  Everything is amplified on the Internet by the simple fact that once something is posted online it is at the same time so easy to spread and so hard to remove.  The dumb remark that would be quickly forgotten in the school yard of yesteryear is now instantly spread to hundreds, if not thousands of Facebook pages by the time a kid realizes, “gee, I probably shouldn’t have said that.”  There is no easy way to retract or redact, so childhood inexperience and innocent stupidity quickly becomes painful fact.  The Magnifying powers of the Internet can fuel more fires and burn more friends and relationships faster than any concentrated bit of sunlight ever could.

Magnify The Examples

The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass is not partial and also amplifies good things too, making it easy and practical to share knowledge, and help others, and raise awareness for worthy causes.  With that in mind our goal is not necessarily to scare our kids off the Internet or restrict them to the point that they are also missing out on the many benefits of our connected world.  One way, perhaps, is to focus on the Magnifying Glass and teach kids that just as you can get burned by the glass in the drawer if you use it with the sun, so can you get burned by the Internet, if you let it magnify things that are better left in the drawer.  With my own three kids, I have tried to focus on the fact that this magnification means that they should assume that anything and everything they post online will be magnified to the point where it will be seen by their parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, employers and future employers.  Before saying anything online they should ask themselves if it is something they are comfortable with being seen by everyone in that magnified audience.

Do you agree?  How do you teach your kids to play safely with The World’s Biggest Magnifying Glass?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

Photo Credit: © Scott Maxwell – Fotolia.com

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From Deep Thoughts To Deep Frying: Cast of Dads #35

We’re baaaack!  We missed a show due to technical difficulties, but that means the Cast of Dads had all sorts of pent up energy for our festive gab fest this week.  As we prepped our families for Thanksgiving we peppered our conversation with everything from freedom of speech issues to drinking and smoking, with a few bits and bytes of tech talk thrown in for good measure.

Before you dive in and take a listen, on behalf of all the Cast of Dads, we wish each and every one of you a happy, safe, filling and fulfilling Thanksgiving Holiday!  Please remember to be thankful at this special time of year.

You can CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 35.

Topics discussed in this episode:

If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads Podcast, please tell your friends about the show and have them subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes.  Also, please leave us a review in iTunes!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood. The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

?Photo Credit: © hc – Fotolia.com

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Test Driving The Intel Reader

Last month I wrote about a very different type of Digital Reader from Intel.  The Intel Reader is designed to help people with dyslexia and other visual impairments by easily scanning and then “reading” (via text-to-speech technology) virtually any written words that can be photographed by the portable device.  I had the chance to play with the Intel Reader and it really is phenomenal technology.

Checking It Out

As I mentioned in last month’s post, Intel has made an Intel Reader available for someone in the Dad-O-Matic community to try out for one month and see firsthand how this type of technology can potentially improve their lifestyle.  You responded with some great and inspiring comments indicating your interest in using an Intel Reader.  I am pleased to say that Kevin Metzger and his daughter Haley have been sent the sample unit to try out.  Kevin is a devoted dad who has contributed to Dad-O-Matic, but he also has some compelling reasons why he has a personal interest in the enabling technology the Intel Reader represents.  As Kevin said in his comment:

“As you may know my first blog is MySpellingSucks.com an unedited discussion about my ADD and Dyslexia and my Daughters CP. I’ve largely learned to compensate for my dyslexia although I am a very slow reader because of it. The bigger reason I’d like to try the reader is to see how it could help my daughter.

For some reason when Haley tries to read from a page in a book she can not track the words or find her spot on a page. When the words are presented individually she seems to do well. It seems like this tool could help us train her to read larger sections of text slowly by presenting progressions of smaller font as she reads.

From my perspective I’d like to see if I could learn to read faster with its use.”

I look forward to learning more about Kevin and Haley’s experience with the Intel Reader and getting the perspective of someone who has had to live with visual challenges and really can judge the impact of this technology.  I will share Kevin and Haley’s thoughts about the Intel Reader with you here in a few weeks.

To be continued…

(Disclosure: I am part of the “Intel Insider” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf. I was not asked to write this post, but I came up with the idea of doing so because I thought it would be of interest and value to the Dad-O-Matic community. I hope you agree.)

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

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The “Hole In The Wall” and Child-Driven Education

My love affair with TED continues…  I have written many blog posts here and on my personal blog about amazing and inspiring TED presentations.  It is a wonderful way to expose yourself to people and concepts you might otherwise never encounter, as well as see really smart and passionate people share vision and views on things that are already on your mind.  One thing that is almost always on the mind of parents is education, and I recently discovered this awesome and awe inspiring presentation by “Education Scientist” Dr. Sugata Mitra.  According to his bio:

In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The “Hole in the Wall” project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher,an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who’s now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it “minimally invasive education.”

If nothing else, this charming and enlightening video will open your eyes to the fact that kids are kids, no matter where and under what circumstances they live… and it may change the way you think about learning and appreciate even more the power of the Internet and the vast information accessible to us thanks to technology and our truly connected world.  As an added bonus there is a brief appearance by the late, great author Arthur C. Clarke, who eloquently says, “A Teacher who can be replaced by a machine, should be…” and “… when you have interest, you will have education.”  Please take a few minutes to watch.  You won’t be disappointed.  Oh, and I found an interesting tidbit on Wikipedia: “The Hole in the Wall experiment has left a mark on popular culture. Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup read about Mitra’s experiment and was inspired to write his debut novel Q & A – this subsequently went on to become the movie Slumdog Millionaire.”

What do you think? Can children with a computer and the Internet really teach themselves?  Do your kids learn on their own from the Internet?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

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Sharing Tech With Kids

Harold (my 4-ish year old) wanted to shoot a video:

The fun of doing this is that he knows how to open Photobooth (on a Mac). He knows how to switch it to video and hit record, and he knows how to speak to the camera (kind of).

When I think about what our kids need today versus how they were raised, there’s a bit of media literacy (production, critique, skepticism, source-gathering, more) that needs to happen sooner than later. Yes, I think that giving kids laptops is potentially tricky and yet I support it. Yes, I think that switching to an e-reader or tablet of some kind is the smart thing to do for older kids, but there are signs of it being really neat for younger kids (in early reports), but that paper and physical media like pencils is still really important.

It won’t be as simple as giving them the tools and teaching them, but I don’t think we can keep kids luddites either.

I’m curious as to YOUR take on this.

Get Your Hands On A Digital Reader That Says It All: The Intel Reader

(Note: If you and/or anyone in your family is dyslexic or suffers from any vision impairment, please read on for a chance to test an Intel Reader in your home for one month…  Disclaimer: Product links below are Amazon Affiliate links.  I am part of the “Intel Insider” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf. I was not asked to write this post, but I came up with the idea of doing so because I thought it would be of interest and value to the Dadomatic community. I hope you agree.)

The concept of digital readers or so-called “e-Readers” has certainly hit the mainstream, with the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble seemingly engaged in pricing wars for their respective Kindle and  Nook devices as well as many other parties entering the e-ink fray, from Sony to Samsung and other lesser known consumer electronics players.  Add to that the iPad and other Tablets and there are no shortage of “electronic reader” devices to choose from.  The Intel Reader, however, is an entirely different type of electronic reader, designed not to be read like a book, but rather to read aloud to you.  Developed by Intel’s Digital Health Group, the Intel Reader was conceived as a powerful, portable device to aid children and adults with Dyslexia and other vision impairments.  Unlike traditional eBook Readers and other digital reading devices for the blind, the Intel Reader does not need to connect with a digital library and download or install content to be read.  Instead, Intel has cleverly created a “point and shoot” reading device, with an integrated scanning camera that quickly, easily and accurately captures any printed words – from the pages of a book, to the labels on a package, to your daily pile of snail mail -  and then reads it aloud to you, while displaying the text for you to follow along.

“Frustration Is The Mother Of Invention”

I was first introduced to the Intel Reader at the “Upgrade Your Life” event I attended at Intel’s Portland Campus in early June.  The device was introduced to us by Ben Foss, Intel’s Director of Access Technology and I have since had the chance to speak further with Ben to get a more complete history of the Intel Reader.  It turns out that there is a very personal story behind the Reader, inspired by Ben’s own experience and frustrations growing up with Dyslexia.  Reading was such a challenge for Ben that he made his way through Stanford Law School by scanning his reading assignments and faxing them to his Mom so she could call him and read them to him over the phone.  The frustration of relying on recordings, slow and limited text to speech conversions, and the kindness of others to read to him, Ben was convinced there had to be a better way and began to experiment with taking pictures of text and using optical character recognition (OCR) software to convert the images to text readable by text to speech programs.

Technology For Independent Living

Recognizing that the same powerful processors that drive portable computers would also have the processing chops to facilitate fast text to speech conversion and other features in a small, portable, battery powered device, Ben approached Intel Health to seek funding to develop a prototype of his concept, stressing the wide range of children and adults whose lives could be dramatically improved by such a reading device.  One of the missions of Intel Digital Health is to find ways for technology to be used to enable people with chronic illnesses to enjoy a more independent lifestyle, and clearly the Intel Reader concept fit the bill.  Ben received funding and the work began.

Good Behavior

One of the things I’ve learned through spending some time with Intel executives is that the company makes product decisions based on a great deal of research on human behavior and ethnograhics.  In creating the current version of the Intel Reader, prototypes were tested with over 400 people, and the observations made had a direct impact on the design, features and functions of the device.  For example, the camera on the Intel Reader is on the bottom, not on the back as one would typically expect on a handheld picture taking device.  The placement of the camera was a result of researchers observing how people were actually using the Intel Reader and recognizing that if a book was open on a table, it was much easier to photograph the pages with the camera on the bottom edge of the device.  Having played with the Reader I can attest to the fact that it is very easy and intuitive to just hold your arms straight out over the book and snap the picture, thanks to the bottom placement of the camera.

Point, Shoot, Listen

I was sent an Intel Reader to play with, and now that I have had the chance to put it through its paces I am going to share the hands on experience with one of you.  The Reader is very easy to use.  As noted there is a camera on the bottom.  Hold your arms out over the pages of the book and snap.  Simple on-screen menus (all of which speak their commands aloud) let you easily manage and play back the documents you have “scanned” by photographing.  You can set the type and speed of the playback voice, and zoom in on the on-screen fonts to enlarge them to seemingly unlimited sizes.  The Intel Reader even lets you make an MP3 file of the reading of any document you have scanned, so you can listen on a PC, phone, iPod, or any other MP3 capable media device.  This is a great feature, that makes the output of the Intel Reader easy to use in places and circumstances where you may not want or be able to bring along the Intel Reader itself.  In fact, you can listen to this blog post, read by the Intel Reader, here.  For scanning larger documents or lots of pages, Intel makes a Portable Capture Station, that holds the Reader above a book, so you can easily snap to scan, turn the page, snap to scan, etc. capturing a large number of pages in one session.  The Portable Capture Station cleverly folds into a self-contained case so you can easily bring it along to work or school or anywhere else you may want to capture content for your Intel Reader.

Success Stories

The best way to truly understand the value of a device like the Intel Reader is to see firsthand how it can have a positive impact on a person’s daily lifestyle. As Ben Foss says, the impact is greatest when the Reader enables people to once again enjoy doing something they love.  Ben has no shortage of great stories about Intel Reader users, from the Dad with Macular degeneration who uses the Reader to be able to see the check when he takes his kids out to dinner, enabling him to once again proudly “pick up the tab” as he used to do… to the kid who was finally able to read the instructions for the game “RISK” only to learn that his buddies had been “cheating” all along in their regular games.  Here is a video of how one woman used the Intel Reader to return to cooking her favorite recipe.  The Intel Reader is not technically a medical device, and thus may not be covered under medical insurance, however, depending on the user’s situation, it may be tax deductible or something that can be purchased on one’s behalf by their school or employer.  If interested in more detail in that regard, please consult with a qualified professional.  To give you an idea of cost, the list price for the Intel Reader is approximately $1,500 and the cost of the optional Portable Capture Station is approximately $399.

Your Turn

Intel has let Dadomatic borrow an Intel Reader to let one of you use it for one month and see firsthand how a digital Reader that speaks to you can make life a little easier.  If you are interested in having the chance to test drive the Intel Reader, please leave a comment below and let me know why you would like to try out the Intel Reader.  One commenter will be selected to be sent an Intel Reader on loan for one month.  To participate I ask  that you agree to share your experience with me so I can include your views in a follow up post here.  Sound like a plan?

Below is a good video demonstration of the Intel Reader.  I look forward to your thoughts on this innovative electronic reader.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

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A Man Inside (Intel)

Here’s the scoop:  As you know, for the past few years I have been active as a so-called “Daddy Blogger,” sharing my dad point of view and stories here at Dadomatic.com and in the weekly Cast of Dads podcast.  With three awesome kids now ages 22, 20 and 18, I have no shortage of experiences and opinions on just about every parenting angle imaginable, so don’t expect me to shut up anytime soon.  On top of that, I am very lucky to often be handed new and interesting things to write about, and in this case I am looking forward to being able to share some insights on exciting new technologies, and how they will impact our family lives as an official “Intel Insider” advisor.

Inside Intel Insiders

Now in its third year, the Intel Insiders program originally sought to connect with early adopters and influencers to help Intel stay in touch and connected with technology enthusiasts.  According to Intel’s Ken Kaplan, “…this year we will be working with influencers actively engaging in lifestyle and parenting conversations online. We are hoping this helps us connect with people who are finding that technology is becoming more important in their lives.”  I am honored and excited to be one of this year’s Intel Insiders along with this impressive group of bloggers:

In June I had the pleasure of visiting Intel’s Portland Campus and today I will be attending an Intel Insiders Summit in NY.  I look forward to sharing more Intel insights with you soon.  Stay tuned…

In accordance to the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that Intel Corporation has covered my travel, accommodations and expenses incurred for the Intel Insider Year III Summit.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

A Father’s Day Gift For The DASHing Dad! (and a chance to win one)

An Alarming Situation

Like most dads (and humans for that matter) I generally go to sleep at night and rely on mechanical assistance to wake myself up at the desired hour each and every morning. With that in mind I have been forever in search of the perfect alarm clock.  I have tried them all – atomic clocks that automatically set themselves, clocks that project the time on the ceiling, clocks with big flashing digital displays, clocks that sound like waves, and streams and birds, and more recently, clocks you can use as a dock for an iPod.  I like going to bed listening to different music so the concept of a iPod dock makes sense, but they are fairly large for the nightstand and it is a bit of a pain moving the iPod around.

A Dash To The Rescue

I am pleased to say that thanks to the good folks over at Sony my quest for the perfect alarm clock has ended!  As part of the Sony DigiDad Project, I was given a Sony Dash (more information available here).  I love my Dash and I am certain any digitally inclined dad would love to have one as a Father’s Day gift.  The Dash is a nice looking web connected wedge shaped tablet that sits on a counter or nightstand in either a flat or upright position.  It features a bright and colorful 7 inch touch screen, surrounded by a classy and rugged rubberized frame.  The Dash connects easily to your home wireless network for internet access, and is compatible with the Chumby widget platform, so there are more than 1000 free Internet widgets (apps) you can install on channels on your Dash – from stock quotes, to weather, to music and video, to Facebook and Twitter, it is easy to customize your Dash with the real-time streaming media of your choice.

Best Alarm Clock Evah!

Sony calls the Dash a “personal Internet viewer.” I call the Dash the best bedside alarm clock I have ever owned, and here’s why:

Keeping time – just like your mobile phone, the Dash can set itself from the network so you always have accurate time (no atomic clock necessary).  As an alarm clock, the Dash is full functioned and very customizable. It is easy to set and manage multiple alarms, individual or recurring.

Multiple Clock Choices – in addition to the “built in” clock, there are clock apps you can add in every imaginable style, from analog neon bar clocks, to classic digital alarm styles, to my personal favorite the flip clock.  You can set one clock style or have multiple styles rotate through as part of an easy to manage theme.

Music and Video – no iPod necessary!  The Dash can stream your personal music from Pandora, Slacker and other Internet radio services.  The Pandora app on the Dash is great, and I have my Dash connected with a line out to the surround sound stereo in my bedroom, making the Dash my primary music source in the room.  You can watch Netflix movies and YouTube videos (and more) and while the Dash’s 7 inch screen looks great, with a regular TV in my bedroom I use the Dash much more for music and audio than video.

Weather and widgets galore – local weather information is nicely integrated into the Dash and with apps you can add all sorts of social media feeds.  With an on screen virtual keyboard you can even Tweet and update your Facebook status from the Dash, but I find viewing the info is more practical from this device.  I love the spontaneous serendipity of social media and having my Twitter and Facebook streams flow by on my night table is just one more way I may randomly encounter a message that captures my interest.

Getting Framed - the Dash is also a great digital picture frame, and can stream your pictures (and if you want, your friends’ pictures) from Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket and other sources.

This is just a dash of the things the Dash can do, and as a connected device there will be continual updates, additions and improvements.  There has already been one update pushed to the device since I have had it that improved the interface and added some new themes, which were greatly appreciated.  I am sure there will be more.  You can add apps and themes to your Dash from the device itself, or from a Sony website. While I find it fairly easy and intuitive to manage the Dash and its screens and installed apps, the process of adding new apps and customizing your channels can be a bit clunky especially from the web.  There is room for improvement, but given that this is a connected device, those improvements can come at any time, even after you are enjoying your Dash.

Win A Dash For Your Dad!

Between now and Father’s Day, Sony is giving away a Dash a day, and myself and the rest of the Sony DigiDads (CC Chapman, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan and Brad Powell) will be helping Sony judge the entries.  Here is a quick overview:

Here is how to enter. Use your twitter account to send a tweet to @sonyelectronics telling us why your Dad deserves a dash. Include #sonydash . Each day one winner will be chosen and announced on twitter the following morning by 9:30 AM pacific standard time.

Here’s an example

“@SonyElectronics My dad deserves a dash because he likes to check his email from bed so he doesn’t need to lug his laptop from work.  He’s #1! #sonydash ”

**Be sure to use the Sony dash hash tag: #sonydash **

** You must tweet @SonyElectronics

For the complete rules please visit: http://blog.discover.sonystyle.com/dashfordad

Want one?  Affiliate link to the Sony dash Personal Internet Viewer at Amazon.com

With or without a Dash, I hope you and yours enjoy a great Father’s Day!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

DISCLOSURE: http://cmp.ly/2/qsw72z

Getting the Intel on Intel at the “Upgrade Your Life” Event

Pass the dip, please...

As so called “daddy bloggers” for Dadomatic we sometimes get invited to attend events that may lead to information and content that will be of interest to you, our readers. A few months ago, for example, Christopher Johnston was flown to New York to attend an advance screening of the family movie “Secrets of the Mountain.” Today I am being flown to Portland Oregon to attend an all day event tomorrow at the Intel Hillsboro Campus called, “Upgrade Your Life.” I will be joining a number of other invited bloggers and digital “influencers” including:

As you can see, there are only two “guys” in this gang and I am glad to be joining one of my “Cast of Dads” cohorts, Michael Sheehan (aka “HighTechDad“) to help represent the Dadosphere.  Until recently, many events like this seemed to be geared toward women exclusively and it is thanks to YOU, readers of Dadomatic, as well as the growing popularity of other dad and fatherhood blogs such as Digital Dads, DadLabs, and many others, that Dads are being included more and more when family and parenting is being considered.  Kudos to the Intel team for opening up this event to geek parents of all genders!  Speaking of geeks, the agenda for the event includes a wide range of presentations and round-table discussions and I look forward to learning more and sharing what I learn with you.  I wonder if they will be serving “chips” at lunch???

Intel Inside… Everything

Following the “Upgrade Your Life” theme, based on the agenda it looks like we will be looking at how technology impacts:

  • The Workplace
  • Healthcare
  • Entertainment
  • Education
  • The Environment
  • The Future

These are all topics we have tackled in one form or another here at Dadomatic, and it should be interesting to see how one of the world’s leading tech companies is approaching them.  We should have access to a number of Intel Executives during the day, so if there are any specific questions you might have for Intel please leave them in the comments and I will do my best to get you some answers while I am “Inside Intel.”

DISCLOSURE: In accordance to the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that Intel Corporation has covered my travel, accommodations and costs related to my visit to their Oregon-based offices.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

Photo Credit: © Starks – Fotolia.com

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Teaching Kids To Share In A Digital Age

Many moons ago, when I was just a mere tike, when my Mom and Dad taught me to “share” they were mostly trying to get me not to explode in a hissy fit when my younger sister or one of my playmates wouldn’t let go of my Legos or give up my G.I. Joe. Life was so simple then… Toys and games were physical things we kids could touch and feel and pull apart and throw against the walls or step on to break. Today, in our increasingly digital world, “sharing” has taken on a meaning much larger than letting friends play with toys.

Images Can Shape Your Image

Today, even from a very young age, our kids have access to the tools to be creators, and to share their creations with their friends and beyond. There has been some good discussion here and here about the perils of sharing too much online. As a parent, there is much concern, and rightly so, about the nature of the images and information our kids are sharing in their digital playgrounds. The flipside, however, is to encourage our kids to share plentifully and appropriately.

The Age Of The Ubiquitous Camera

When I was a kid photography was a very special hobby that, for the most part, required expensive equipment and costly development and printing. Wasted images were wasted money, so a typical kid did not have the opportunity to dabble in “taking pictures” until they had saved up some of their allowance money and demonstrated a certain level of maturity and responsibility. Even the so-called “instant” and “disposable” cameras had developing costs and usage limitations that inherently made them not particularly kid friendly. In the days of film and rolls of 12, 24 or 36 “exposures” every image counted, and parents on a vacation budget couldn’t necessarily spare a few bad shots on the whims of a child photographer. These are entirely foreign concepts in today’s digital world, where even toddlers can play with (kid friendly) digital cameras; almost every mobile phone is also a camera; and thanks to inexpensive and readily available digital storage (including “the cloud”) the perceived cost of taking a picture is zero, and the amount of images, good or bad, that one can capture is virtually unlimited.

Sharing Is Creativity Unleashed

Our kids are growing up in a world where everyone and anyone can create and share in ways that were barely dreamed about a decade or so ago. As a parent, it is enlightening to see how effortlessly our kids have stepped into this world and how digital sharing is second nature to them. I was recently reminded of this when my older son, 21, had a picture he took of his truck published at an enthusiast and parts website, Edge Products.  As part of the Sony DigiDad Project I had a Sony A330 DLSR on loan for a few weeks. I let my kids use it as well and the first thing Zach did was run outside and take pictures of his truck (which, understanding the nature of the relationship between a guy and his wheels, didn’t surprise me at all). What did surprise me is that, without missing a beat, he assumed he would be able to share the pictures, and not just with his friends on his Facebook page.  He immediately started posting and emailing his pictures to Auto and Truck sites, and “pitched” his pictures to editors by email.  Why not?

No Magnets Or Refridgerators Required

As much as we may cherish the crayon scrawled drawings posted in our kitchens, today our kids’ creations can instantly and easily spread way beyond the refridgerator door.  They can be emailed to grandparents and posted to websites for all to see.  Today when we teach our kids to share, they are potentially sharing with the world.  There has been a lot of talk about the potential for negative outcomes from such open sharing, but what about the positive?  How exciting it is to live in a time where the tools for creating and publishing are so readily available to anyone, of any age.  Think of the power our kids have to spread their voice as compared to what we had at their age.

How does that change the way we teach our kids to share in a digital age?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

Photo Credit: © Nikolai Sorokin – Fotolia.com

I’m a dork just like my dad

06_apple_iic

I don’t talk about my dad too often, actually this is my first post where I’m acknowledging him. Unfortunately he has had severe depression for the last 10 -15 years and he hasn’t dealt with it. Three months ago after my son was born it finally got in the way of our relationship and we are not currently speaking. This hurts me and is not really by my choice but it is what it is and it does not take away from the fact the my father was a great dad while we were growing up. He was a doctor and he was busy, but he was there for us and present when he was with us. I never felt neglected and I loved, and love him very much.

This said my dad is definitely a dork, not in a bad way but like me. He was into stereo electronics, was somewhat of an audiophile, and was a general hobbyist with things like electronics. He was however a little slow in moving to a computer but finally bought an Apple IIC that we had for years, actually until I went to college.

There are many things I remember about that computer but two things stand out.
1) My dad’s amazement at: what it could do, how relatively inexpensive it was even though it was extremely expensive, and his fascination taking it out of the box and putting it together. We discovered it together. I was old enough to help put the wires in the right places and really helped him figure out where things went and how to plug them in.
2) The other thing I remember is the computer didn’t have a hard drive.

It’s the lack of hard drive in the first computer that inspired this blog. That and remembering my experience with my dad. I bought a 1 terabyte external hard drive from WalMart last night for $99. I’m completely blown away that I have the much storage in such a little box and it only cost $99. When I first started working 1Tb of data was about $10,000. This is just one of those things that hit me. It’s kind of the inverse of my Dad talking to me about the movies when I was a kid.” I remember when movies cost $0.05″

I wonder is it odd that the hard drive struck me as more amazing than the iPad?

Kevin Metzger is father to Haley, Abby and Isaac and husband to Melanie. He is a Business Systems Architect and writes on tech and business topics at MetzgerBusiness.com. Kevin also writes MySpellingSucks.com for which he was awarded the 2009 East Cobber Father of the year. Recently Kevin has started TheDADvocateProject.com where he is looking for participation from dads to help write a book about this current generation of dads. Come by and fill out the DADvocate survey.

Photo Credit Dale Cruse.

The iPad vs. The iDad!

An apple a day… gives the media lots to talk about.  This week both the tech news and so called “mainstream media” was all abuzz about the long rumored, finally revealed, “tablet” device from Steve Jobs and his team at Apple.  When all the dust settled, as expected, everyone’s attention turned to the “core” of the Apple iPad, and the heated comparisons and complaints began in force.  While many have compared and contrasted the iPad to the Amazon Kindle, other tablet PC’s and Netbooks, there is one comparison that I haven’t seen, and one that is most suited for Dad-O-Matic readers: The iPad vs. the iDad!

The iDad: Why EVERY Home Should Have One!

There is a readily available interactive device that beats the pants off the iPad (and it even wears pants!)  Yes, the iDad is the one device that every household with kids should have, and it has standard features that clearly put the iPad to shame, including cameras, multitasking, expandability, and even a significantly longer battery life.  Yes, the iDad is the groundbreaking computing device that is clearly well positioned to take a bite out of the Apple iPad’s potential market.

Here is a simple comparison:

Which does your household need more, an iPad or an iDad?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

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Savvy Cyber Kids – An Interview

DADvocate – Internet Discussions from Kevin Metzger on Vimeo.

This is a video interview with Security Expert Ben Halpert. Ben has two daughters and a son on the way. When his first daughter was born he began thinking about the security risks for being on line with children and how and when that conversation should start to take place. Ben decided that we are probably reaching out to children too late in life to begin this conversation. Much like teaching your children to say please or thank you Internet behavior conversation needs to start when your children are young and still listen to you.

Ben has started the Non Profit Savvy Cyber Kids. This organization is dedicated to providing resources to parents and teachers that will help them in educating their children on internet safety. Currently Ben has a number of resources available on his site including:

To access all this information and keep up with Ben go to benhalpert.com

I’d also like to thank Jeff Sass for inspiring this interview with his post Having that conversation with your kids. You can find more on Jeff Sass at JefferySass.com

Kevin Metzger is father to Haley, Abby and Issac and husband to Melanie. He is a Business Systems Architect and writes on tech and business topics at MetzgerBusiness.com. Kevin also writes MySpellingSucks.com for which he was awarded the 2009 East Cobber Father of the year. Recently Kevin has started TheDADvocateProject.com where he is looking for participation from dads to help write a book about this current generation of dads. Come by and fill out the DADvocate survey.

Cast of Dads Episode 6: Keep On Truckin’!

No, we didn’t take to the road this week, but we did get our first e-mail question from a listener who happens to be a truck driver.  He goes by the handle of “Jokerman” and he wanted to know if the Cast of Dads could share our thoughts on MP3 players and eBook readers.  Well, needless to say, we did our best to answer Jokerman’s questions and then some.  ;-)

Here is what we talk about in Episode 6:

You can listen to Episode 6 here, and subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes. Also, please leave us a review in iTunes!

And of course… Keep on Truckin’!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood.  The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff,Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

Having “That” Conversation With Your Kids…

Sex… is not what this post is about.  No birds and bees here.  Instead I want to talk about the “other” conversation to have with your kids as they approach the age of puberty and start to become young adults.  That is the talk about privacy and managing with common sense the digital trails we deliberately and innocently leave behind in “cyberspace.”  For many parents this may be an even more challenging topic than the dreaded “sex talk.”  As parents, by definition we have generally had sex ourselves, and we were once teens, experiencing the hormonal surges and urges of the beginnings of our sexual lives.  Therefore, though it may give us the willies, we are more or less prepared and have relevant firsthand experience to shed wisdom and guidance on matters of sex.  On the other hand, as parents most of us did not grow up in the same digital world our kids now inhabit.  We did not grow up tempted with “sexting” from our mobile phones.  We did not grow up sharing our lives and loves online, with pictures, videos, and often revealing “status updates” on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube.

You Are Your Resume

My oldest son will graduate college this year and enter the “full time” work force.  A few years ago, when he was looking for a part time job, I remember helping him with his resume, crafting the words in a traditional paper format.  You know the drill: Objective, Work Experience, Education, References, etc.  Now as he gets closer to really needing a resume it dawned on me that he needs to concern himself with much more than a classic Curriculum Vitae.  He needs to concern himself with his online resume, in particular, his Facebook resume.  So, we had “the talk.”  In this talk, the protection we discussed had nothing to do with prophylactics (although we DID once have THAT talk).  In this talk I told him to assume that for any job he might apply for, the employer would see everything on his Facebook page.  He should assume that his potential future employers would “Google” him, and take a close look at his digital life.  In some cases that may be more important to them than his old fashioned resume.  I told him that, like it or not, he had to use common sense and think about and filter anything and everything he posts online with the understanding that it may very well shape the impressions of the people who will help him launch his career.

Online Is The Real Vegas

The clever catchphrase of Las Vegas notwithstanding, what happens online does indeed stay online, and that is an important lesson for us to teach our kids.  They have to be made aware that “cyberspace” has a better memory than any elephant. Digital ink is more indelible than any Sharpie pen.  The silliness they may choose to share with their friends is more than likely going to be visible by family and employer alike.  Even if some networks and things are truly private, I think the best way for our kids to approach their online lifestream is to use protection and proceed with the assumption that anything and everything they choose to share is discoverable.

What do you think?  Have you had this talk with your kids?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

Photo Credit: © ioannis kounadeas – Fotolia.com

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Foursquare And Seven Days Ago…

“It’s ten o’clock… do you know where your children are?”  In the days before mobile phones and text messaging, that was a line in a frequently broadcast Public Service Announcement.  Even in our connected world today, as parents we still DO want to know where our children are… all the time.  Now we have the advantage of calling or texting our kids (assuming they are of “phone age” – which is getting younger and younger by the year). I recently discovered another way we can use our smartphones to “check in” with our kids.

Geek Chic, And Fun For Parents Too

One of the companies rising in popularity amongst the tech crowd is Foursquare, a mobile social network that cleverly leverages location based information and gaming elements to keep friends in touch and make exploring the cities you live in and visit more fun.  Using the mobile web or an app for your iPhone, Android, or Palm WebOS phone, Foursquare makes it easy to “check in” at any location you are at.  When you check in, your location (and a short “shout out” message) is broadcast to your Foursquare friends in the same city (and, optionally, to your Twitter or Facebook account). In addition to knowing where all your friends are, as you “check in” to different venues and locations, you earn points and badges on your way to becoming the “Mayor” (person with the most visits) of a particular location.  I recently added my own twist to Foursquare by introducing my son Zach to the program.

It’s Ten O’Clock And I Do Know Where My Children Are

Zach has an iPhone so I encouraged him to get the Foursquare iPhone app and sign up for an account, which he did. Zach commutes to college and works most nights at a restaurant.  He has a very busy schedule and though we live in the same house we are rarely home at the same time.  I often call or text him “where are you?” just to check in and make sure I know that he is ok. Now, with both of us using Foursquare, I know when he has arrived at school and when he gets to work in the evening.  At the same time, he knows where I am, and Zach said he enjoyed following my movements and felt more connected than usual during my recent trip to Las Vegas for the CES show, as Foursquare let him virtually follow me around the convention.

Responsibility And Trust

Foursquare is not a tracking program, and if you are looking for a way to passively keep track of your kid’s movements, this is not the answer.  In order for your location to be broadcast to your friends with Foursquare you have to actively check in at each place you want to share.  It is completely opt-in and not automatic.  On the other hand, if your child has a smartphone and you are looking for a fun way to get them to let you know where they are, and build a sense of responsibility and trust along the way, playing Foursquare could be a lot of fun and functional.

What do you think?  Would you use a game like Foursquare to help stay in touch with your kids, or am I just an old geek?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

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Creating a Virtual Christmas

I mentioned in my last post that I would be doing a project to help make the long distance gap on the holiday much less. So here are some stocking stuffers from the BenSpark.com tree that will help you.

  • A Free Blog
  • Photo Sharing Account
  • Qik Account
  • Cell phone that can run Qik
  • Ustream.tv Account
  • Webcam
  • Twitter Account
  • Eye-Fi Card
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It Fits

 

A Dedicated Blog: Step one in creating a virtual Christmas (this can also be used to celebrate other holidays) is to create a new blog. I decided to use Blogger because it is wicked easy to set up and it is free. Since this isn’t something I’m going to blog on all the time and it is really just for my in-laws to view I don’t need to think SEO, design and so many other things. This is not a long term commitment.

Dress it Up: I did want to make the blog look nice so I grabbed a quick theme from DeluxeTemplates. You certainly don’t have to do this but it is easy enough to do so why not take one quick step to pretty up the place.

Video: I’m not going to be tied to the computer all Christmas day so instead to set up so many things behind the scenes. That way when Christmas Day comes I don’t have to do anything except turn things on. On the new blog I added a gadget to the blog that has the code for my Live Ustream channel. That way when I am live on Ustream the blog will be showing me live. So, when I am not live visitors can look at previous shows. The same can be done with Qik. I set up both of these because on Christmas Day I will be in a wireless network and on the Day after Christmas when we go to visit my wife’s extended family I will only have the cell phone to use. By adding both channels I don’t have to direct my in-laws to multiple places they can go to one place to see everything that is going on.

Photos: I’ll be taking photos during the day and rather than be stuck uploading the images to the blog or to Flickr or anywhere else I can take the photos and have them wirelessly post by using an Eye-Fi card. I can change the settings so that the photos automatically upload with a specific tag on them. The reason I want to do this and why I chose Flickr is that I can create a badge based upon that specific tag. I created a vertical badge that shows the 5 most recent images and added that to the sidebar. This way when I take photos with my camera using an eye-fi card all images automatically have the correct tag and they will show up in the sidebar.

Twitter: You could set up a special Twitter account to quickly text little things that your kids say and capture those truly silly and endearing moments. In blogger you can pull in as many RSS feeds as you would like and thus you can pull in that Twitter feed into the sidebar of that new blog.

Mobile Blog Posts: With blogger you can send blog posts via SMS, MMS or e-mail to your blog. You just have to set that up ahead of time. Just click on Settings / Email & Mobile, there you can make those settings. If you want to post up something quick that your child said then send an SMS message. Post a quick image with title using your cell phone then use MMS. If you want to have more options send the post to your Email Posting Address for blogger. I suggest that when you are setting up this sort of blog you involve the rest of the family to help. So, both my wife and I will set up our phones to be mobile blogging units for the Christmas Holiday. If you’d like to see how things go for us please visit http://holidaybenspark.blogspot.com/.

How A Social Media Guru Helped My Son With His Homework

Thanks to technology, our kids are growing up in an amazing time. Homework assignments that I would have had to use construction paper, crayons and Elmer’s Glue to complete are now being accomplished with laptops and PowerPoint.  Stacks of papers and notebooks have been replaced by files on key chain sized USB drives.  Those are just some of the obvious uses of technology in the classroom.  With all the cool “web 2.0″ and “Social Media” tools available kids are coming up with new and creative ways to fulfill their homework assignments and recently I was happy to make a suggestion that that helped my son get an “A.”

The Animated Ghost of Christmas Present

My son was frustrated with an assignment to act out “Stave 3” of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Most of his class was going to create a skit of the scene between Ebenezer Scrooge and the second of the three spirits he would encounter, however my son was having a hard time getting together with his classmates to write and rehearse a skit.

I suggested, “Why don’t you make a cartoon?”  He looked at me like I was crazy.  “Seriously,” I said.  “I saw this really cool animation called ‘The Social Media Guru’ that was made using a website where you type the script, direct the characters, and it spits out a YouTube video!”   He was intrigued.  I pointed him to www.xtranormal.com and he was off to the races.

While the hysterical Social Media Guru video is NOT SAFE FOR WORK OR KIDS, my son’s assignment for his class is, and it is embedded below.

How have your kids used new technology tools for their class assignments?  Please let us know in the comments.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

Photo Credit: Jane – Fotolia.com

 

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Rise of the Social Natives

I recently attended a session at PodCamp New Hampshire on “Digital Natives” and realized halfway through the discussion that my children represent the first generation of “Social Natives.” My son Jackson and I thought it would be nice to share an episode of our show “Two Dudes and One Camera” with the Dad-O-Matic community and give you our take on what the rise of the social natives may mean to society and the world as we know it.

Here is a short list of things we think will change. Please feel free to share your thoughts on what a new generation of social natives will mean in the comment section.

  • Friendships – Think about your first friendships. Most of them probably with other children from your neighborhood, church, school or maybe children of your parents’ friends. My son and daughter will most likely develop real friendships with kids who live nowhere near them. These friendships will be as real and genuine as any other.
  • Never Losing Touch – Over the years I have lost touch with many of my early childhood friends. A lot of them moved when we were still kids and the rest of us dispersed after high school. Sure social tools like Facebook have allowed me to reconnect with some friends but in most cases being separated for over a decade or longer has made true reconnection awkward. Social natives will never have to lose touch with friends simply because their moms and dads choose to move.
  • Schools – The long promised virtual school is possible today. How long will it be before parents are given the choice to enroll their social native children in schools connected via Skype? Children in an economically depressed area of the country will no longer need to be victimized by chronically under performing school systems. What happens to our inner cities when children no longer need to risk their lives to receive an education?
  • Business – By the time my children reach the age of 18 each of them will likely have a global network of friends. Can you even begin to imagine the disruptive businesses these kids will launch?
  • Geo Politics – Sure a country is defined by geographical borders but it also needs a common culture and political framework. There is an old saying that says “all politics is local” but will that be true when social natives take the reigns of power? Yes they will care about local services but only as much as it impacts their lives. If they no longer need a local school system to educate themselves and their children what other local concerns will rally their vote? How will nations interact when an entire generation of world leaders have been interconnected since they were children?
  • Entertainment - Jackson turned 5 today and already he is a prolific content creator. Each episode of “Two Dudes and One Camera” is 7 to 8 minutes long. When his friends and family watch his show that is 7 to 8 minutes in which they are not watching NBC. What happens when some of his other friends and family members start creating and distributing content? How will our society change when there is no longer a common entertainment experience from which we develop a sense of what is funny, what is sad or tragic, what is violent and what is meaningful?
  • Cultural Identity – The nature versus nurture debate is about to be put to the test on a scale previously unimaginable. What we believe and how we behave has historically been due in large part to the circumstance in which we were born. Until recently dissenters were either culturally isolated or eliminated. However, we now live in a world where it is becoming increasingly easier for us to find and connect with other people who share our interests and beliefs regardless of where we live. How will the world change when the social natives come of age with access tools that allow for insulation against those who are intolerant of their beliefs? What happens when angry children filled with rage have no barrier to connecting with other angry punks? The world is about to see the long tail applied to cultural identity and it will have massive implications on how our children live.

What other changes do you see coming? Are you kids social natives? Do you see differences in their lives as a result?

The Sony VAIO P-Mercial: Family Fun With Video

WebAs the latest mission for the Sony DigiDad Project, we were loaned a Sony VAIO P Series Lifestyle PC mini laptop and told to go record a class trip or some other family outing.  My kids are too old for “class trips” and I wanted to do something that actually included the VAIO P, because it has such an unusual form factor for a computer.  And the “P” is a full-blown computer.  It may be light in weight, but it is far from a lightweight when it comes to features and computing power.  To demonstrate, my kids and I created our own spoof of an “infomercial” for the VAIO P.  We call it a “P-Mercial.”  Let us know what you think.  More about the Sony products and making videos with your kids below the video.

As a work of art the VAIO P is a stunning and impressive bit of design and engineering.  It really is gorgeous to behold (and really easy to hold).  It is also a great idea to have something so light and small actually be a full power PC and not a light but limited netbook.  In addition, wireless broadband and an integrated GPS makes a tremendous amount of sense in such a truly portable PC.  Kudos to Sony for putting all this power and features together in such a stylish and attractive package.  That said, gorgeous and cool as the VAIO P is, I found the the high resolution screen much too difficult to read, and the “pointing stick” track ball a bit too awkward to manipulate.  As much as I would think it would be cool to have one of these to toss in my bag, I could not imagine actually using it for any length of time.  Perhaps someone with better eyesight and smaller hands would feel differently.

LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION!

My favorite part about participating in the Sony DigiDad Project has been the opportunity to involve my family in some fun activities that were inspired by the various equipment Sony loaned us.  In this case, Ethan, Olivia and I had a blast shooting our little “infomercial.”  It was a fun, creative and engaging way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and the end result is a video we’ll be able to share and laugh about for a long time to come.  We shot the video with the Sony HDR-XR500, which is probably my favorite item of all the Sony gear I have had the chance to play with as part of this project.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Sony HDR-XR500 is a beautiful piece of equipment.  It takes gorgeous, almost professional looking High Definition video, and it records it on a massive 120GB internal hard drive (up to 48 hours of video storage in HD mode).  I would definitely consider purchasing one of them, especially if my kids and I want to continue producing “infomercials!”

Have you ever collaborated with your kids on a video production?  With all the digital creation tools we now have available it is a fun and memorable way to spend the day.  What do you think?  Is digital content creation going to become the family pastime of our time?  Please share your thoughts (and links to your family video productions) in the comments.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

This post is part of series called the “Sony DigiDads Project” by Sony Electronics where a group of dads, including C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, have been given the opportunity to test and review Sony gear.  If you want to know more about this project visit the Sony Electronics Community.

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Digital Tattletales and the Case of the Taken Tahini

hummusThere is no doubt we live in a digital world. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if we didn’t. As a “Digital Dad” (hat tip to CC Chapman) I have written here before about the impact of text messaging and mobile phones on family life, especially if you have older kids, as I do, who live their lives on their iPhones and Blackberries.

He Said, She Said

Recently, I had my first experience with a “digital tattletale,” when one of my sons used a picture sent from his iPhone to “tell” on his sister. I had to laugh when I received an email message with the subject, “Look what Olivia did…” along with the picture above…

Hummus A Song, Will Ya?

Let me explain. As you may know if you have followed me here, FOOD is very important in my family. We often buy a particular Hummus that comes with a big wad of Tahini in the middle. Apparently, my son came home to find my daughter had scooped out and eaten all the Tahini, leaving just the plain hummus around the edges for the rest of us. My son was so appalled he felt compelled to send me the picture of the Hummus with the “missing” Tahini. I’m not sure what he expected me to do… I certainly was not going to punish my daughter for pulling a Houdini on the Tahini. If she wanted to make it disappear (into her mouth) so be it. After all. food is meant to be eaten.

Have your kids ever been “digital tattletales? What is the most unusual digital message you’ve received from one of your kids? So far, for me, this one takes the cake (or the Tahini as the case may be.)

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 17).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

UPDATE ON MOVEMBER:

If you read my post last week you know I am supporting MOVEMBER and am growing a moustache to raise awareness and funds  for Prostate and Testicular cancer research.  So far the progress of my moustache is far outweighing the progress of support for the cause at my donation page.  If you are so inclined, I encourage you to please lend your support at any level you are comfortable with.  If you’ve enjoyed my contributions here at Dad-o-matic, I’d enjoy it if you could help me support this important effort to improve men’s health. Thank you!

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100 Faces of Fall: A CyberShot In The Arm

3998978363_c5d80116db_bThey say a picture is worth a thousand words, yet as my task for this latest installment in the Sony DigiDad Project I am asked to write about a bunch of pictures.  Such is the life of a SonyDad.  They (who the heck are “they” anyway???) also say that the best camera is the camera you have with you, and thanks to the good folks at Sony Electronics, this summer the camera I had with me most of the time was either the stellar Sony A330 DSLR or the skinny Cybershot DSC-TX1.  (NOTE TO THE FTC: The cameras in my possession are on loan from Sony, to be returned.  My only compensation for participating in the Sony DigiDad Project is the wonderful memories I have captured digitally and the fun times I have shared with my kids and family playing with the various Sony equipment.) Here is an Animoto video of the photos my kids and I took over the summer and early fall with the Sony Cameras.  You can see the Flickr group of all the photos here.  I share more thoughts on the camera’s themselves below the video.

The Candid On The Camera(s)DSLRA330Y

The pictures above were taken by me and my children using both the A330 and the CyberShot.   I never used a Digital SLR before and I have really enjoyed using the Sony A330.  It takes beautiful pictures, easily and reliably in a variety of lighting conditions.  It feels great in my hands, and the professional air it carries (at least for a DSLR newbie like me) makes the experience of taking photos very enjoyable.  Controls are well placed and easy to use, and the LCD viewfinder folds out in different directions, giving you lots of flexibility for creative camera positions and angles.  It also cleverly has slots for both standard SD cards as well as Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick format, which is a big plus if you are upgrading from a non-Sony camera and already have an ample supply of SD cards.  The A330 is a camera I would love to own myself, and it is a great introduction to DSLR photography.

A CyberShot In The Arm

DSCTX1H_1 This sleek and slim camera is physically svelte and stylish, and for it’s small stature it is loaded with features.  The 10.2 MP still camera also shoots 720p HD video which is all quite impressive in such a small package.  However, the camera is so light and thin I found it difficult to hold steady at times, something that was more a problem for shooting video than still pictures.  The camera also boasts a beautiful and large 3 inch LCD touch screen display, which makes it very easy to change settings and modes at any time.  By far the most impressive (and cool) feature the camera has is the Panorama mode.  This allows you to seamlessly create ultra wide angle panorama views by simply moving the camera from left to right.  The CyberShot “automagically” digitally combines your movement into a single panoramic view (see below).  It takes a few times to get used to the motion in order to properly fill a complete panoramic shot, but once you get the hang of it the feature is very neat.

DSC00098

DSC00099

DSC00070

While I enjoyed playing with the CyberShot there were a few things that I found to be problematic with it.  For one, while the large touch screen LCD is beautiful indoors, I found it virtually unusable in bright sunlight, leaving me to be shooting “blind” for the most part when outside in the Florida sun.  I had to “point and shoot” without the benefit of really seeing what was in the frame, as the bright sun completely washed out the viewfinder.  I also found the zoom control to be too small for making a steady move without shaking the camera.  Lastly, the CyberShot has an unusual “Multi Connector Cable” which is used to both connect the camera to a PC or to a TV.  The “Multi Cable” has a proprietary connection to the camera at one end, and both a USB connection and Audio/Video connections at the other end.  Personally, as I doubt I would ever connect the camera direct to a TV I would much prefer being able to connect the CyberShot to a PC with a standard mini or micro USB cable.  Unfortunately, the only connection to the camera is the odd multi connector so you must use that cable, with all its tentacles, whether you need them or not.  All things considered, while it is slim and feature packed (I am only touching the surface of what it is capable of), from a pure “point and shoot” point of view, I found the thin feel and the inability to see the LCD in sunlight to be non-starters for me.

Of course, it is not just the camera that makes the photographer, and I had a great time spending time taking pictures of and with my kids.  For that, I am glad Sony gave me a CyberShot in the arm to go out and do so!  How about you?  Was your summer full of digital photography?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

This post is part of series called the “Sony DigiDads Project” by Sony Electronics where a group of dads, including C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, have been given the opportunity to test and review Sony gear.  If you want to know more about this project visit the Sony Electronics Community.


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A “Spoof” Is Not Always Funny: Teaching Kids The POWER of Technology

who is callingOur children are growing up in an amazing, incredible, awe inspiring age.  It is easy to take for granted the phenomenal, science fiction-esque, fantasy world they (and we) now live in.  A world where they can instantly communicate with any of their family or friends anywhere on the planet, any time they want, for pennies, from a device they carry with them in their pockets.  A world where any imaginable bit of information – history, science, art, quotations, directions, explanations, spelling, grammar, even Grandma, is literally just a few keystrokes and an internet connection away.  Despite the many daily reminders of harsh times and worries over the economy, the climate, the wars and civil unrest, and countless other bits of “life” that vie for both our attention and our depression, we truly are blessed to live in a golden age of technology.  An age where real technology has lived up to the imagination and creativity of the dreamers and visionaries of our past.  What would Jules Verne think if he were alive today to see so many of his fantasies of fiction actually in widespread practical use?

THE TROUBLE WITH TECHNOLOGY

All this awesome technology also can come with tremendous responsibility, and as my own kids follow in the footsteps of my rabid gadget geekiness, one of my real challenges as a parent is to instill in them an understanding of the POWER of the technology they often do take for granted.  The tools we have today are so capable and so easy to use and have such broad reach that it is simpler than ever to “take something too far” and, even unintentionally, do something bad.  As parents, more than ever we have to work on instilling a sense of what is right, and what is good and proper behavior because the technology our kids have easy access to can take bad behavior and put it on steroids!  Case in point: Phone Spoofing.

WHO YA GONNA CALL???

As someone in the mobile entertainment business, I have custom ringtones and images on my phone for everyone who calls me regularly.  When my phone went off with the ringtone I have set for my girlfriend, and her number and picture appeared on my phone’s screen, I answered with a “term of endearment” reserved for just her.  Instead of her sweet voice, on the other end of the line I heard giggling and one of my sons’ voice attempting a high-pitched impersonation of her.  You see, my sons have iPhones and just discovered “Jail-breaking.”  While Jail-breaking gave them access to some welcome capabilities on their older iPhones such as video recording, it also gave them access to a pretty sophisticated “phone spoofing” app that lets them place a call as if it is coming from virtually any other phone number.  I laughed when they revealed themselves as my girlfriend, and again when they called my father from my mother’s cell phone.  Then I paused the laughter when I realized how easy it would be to seriously abuse such a capability.  I sat my sons down and rattled off ways this “spoofing” thing could get them into REAL trouble.  In my family we are pranksters at heart, so I didn’t go so far as to force them to delete it, but I did strongly caution them to be very, very thoughtful and careful in how, when and on whom they use the “spoof” app.  I am hoping the novelty of it will wear off very quickly.

What do you think?  Would you allow your kids to keep the spoofing application?  Have you had other challenges with warning your kids about the power of technology?  What other technologies do you fear can be easily abused by your kids and/or get them into trouble unintentionally?  Please share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments.  Oh, and if your kids do have the spoofing app, make sure it really is your significant other on the line before you go all lovey dovey on them!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 19 and Olivia, 17).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab.

Photo Credit: © julien tromeur – Fotolia.com

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Creative Gift Buying for Teens

Holiday Gocco Gift tags - Nature - set of 5

Buying gifts, whether they are for Birthday’s, Christmas or just general tokens of affection gets harder as your children grow up. My two daughters are especially difficult to buy for. There are two reasons for this, one they are both in their late teens / early adult hood (one turns 18 next week, one turned 20 in September), the other is that they live 5000 miles away in the UK.

Whats New?

Trying to keep up with their interests was hard enough when we all lived in the same house, it became harder when I left but was living in the same country, at least then I could watch the same TV programs and get some idea of what they might be interested in. Now they are older and are further away I find myself scratching my head all the more. How do I even begin to find out what they are into? Where do I look for clues?

Technology To The Rescue

Enter technology, specifically in the form of Facebook. I love reading the new posts that both my daughters make to Facebook. Seeing photographs of parties, gigs and other events that they attend. What I hadn’t thought of was how much the comments that they make can reveal about them and what they are into.

I recently discovered that my 17 year old was really smitten with the Microsoft Zune MP3 player. She prefers it to the iPod. She has always been an iconoclast in training and this was another manifestation of it. Well so what? Well firstly great present idea for her up coming birthday, secondly I found out you can’t buy the Zune in the UK yet.

Off to the Internet I go and track down a great deal from Amazon, a 120GB Zune with a clear acrylic case for less than the local electronic big box is asking for the 80GB Zune on its own.

Its All In The Presentation

Now this might seem an easy cop out. Buy a gift online, wrap it up and mail it off. If I had left it at that, I would agree, and probably so would my daughter. Which is why that isn’t what I did. Being a distant Father means you miss out on a lot. Would I rather be there with my daughter on her 18th Birthday, absolutely, but unfortunately I can’t be. So how to close the gap just a little? Yes you guessed it technology again. Once the Zune arrived I carefully unpackaged it and read the instructions. I had no idea just how cool this little box was. What I did was to download the driver to my laptop, setup my video camera and record her a birthday greeting, I sang Happy birthday (she might not think that is a treat with my voice), included our cats and dog (all of whom she met on a recent visit this summer) and generally tried to get the point across that this was more than just a gift for her birthday, this was me attempting to bridge the miles, and the years and let her know how special she is.

So my tip for gift buying, especially for Teens? Personalize it, make it not just personal to them but show them your personal side, show them that you weren’t just buying something cool, but that you put something of you into it.

Image by Sarah Parrott via Flickr
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